I had a number exchange with a neighbor who lives together with her partner before I moved into my new apartment. They are a wonderful couple and I was thrilled to have them as potential friends.
She said it was okay to send her messages with “any question at all,” so I sent a few questions, including “Where are the gas meters?” “How should I budget for my monthly bills?” I also offered to help with their paperwork. Because we all work remotely, I asked them if they would be willing to “body double” occasionally with me.
My neighbor blocked me a month later after I moved in. My neighbor messaged me and said that her boyfriend would only let me contact him.
It was a strange and painful blow. My new neighbors were so friendly that I believed we were starting to form a neighborly friendship. Why did I get ghosted?
As a response to ADHD, Ghosting
Nobody wants to be rejected, especially ADHD people. Ghosting was particularly bothersome to me as I wasn’t certain what I had said or done wrong.
[Symptom Test: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria in Adults]
Did I ask them too many questions? Was it too friendly? Was I too friendly?
I realized that most of our interactions were me talking. Due to my ADHD symptoms and stress from the move, I was probably anxiously talking. They were all new to me, and I was astonished that I didn’t know much about them.
I don’t think I can be everyone’s cup. But, I was still concerned that I had upset my neighbors. I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings and make amends. How do you go about doing that? Knowing what I had done wrong led me to question my perceptions and communication style.
Although I wanted to be part of my new community I felt excluded and self-conscious. Then, I felt paranoid. Would there be rumors about me? What if I had a reputation before meeting my neighbors? I was unsure whether “being myself” would lead to me being ghosted by all the people I met. This was a struggle that I spent months trying to resolve. I was anxious, isolated and overly apologetic when I met neighbors. I was afraid that I would accidentally trigger another rejection for an unforgivable but invisible sin.
[Free Download: Become a Small Talk Super Star]
Healthy Boundaries Aren’t Always Obvious
Being open to all kinds of things, I often forget that conversation can also have an implied motive, subtext or hidden agenda. When was manipulating more acceptable than being honest and open about our needs? What happened to the days when we stopped saying what we really want and started hinting at other things? Subtext is difficult.
ADHD people say what they think, and they ask questions that are not related to what they are expected to say. Without realizing it, we can go beyond healthy boundaries. This can cause confusion at best. It can cause psychological harm. How can we know what someone’s boundaries are? And what happens if we cross them? Many people try to hide their ADHD by avoiding this confusion.
Ghosting is better than being simple. It’s not difficult to understand the word “no”. Ghosting triggers our rejection sensitive dysphoria. Ghosting makes us feel disoriented, confused, guilty, misunderstood, and disposable. We lose trust in new people, which reduces the number of opportunities we have to share our experiences with them. It is also rude.
If you have ghosted someone recently, send them a message and tell them why. It’s polite and far more humane than leaving them in the dark. Could it be that you have misread the situation? Do they have the potential to learn and grow from this experience? It is possible, I believe.
Next steps for ADHD and ghosting
7 secrets to making and keeping adult friends
Read The ADHD Guide to Naturally, Normally Flowing Conversations
Free Download: Rein In Intense ADHD Emotions
You can watch this video: How to reduce social anxiety and foster connections
eBook: The ADHD Handbook to Building Social Connections